It’s always interesting to hear the predictions of what the top technology trends will be for the coming year. Thankfully, eWeek, Baseline, Technorati, and InformationWeek have some good suggestions. I’ve summarized and added my own two cents:

1) Cloud computing-And you thought clouds were in the sky! Cloud computing, otherwise known as Software as a Service (SaaS),”is computation, software, data access, and storage services that do not require end-user knowledge of the physical location and configuration of the system that delivers the services,” according to Wikipedia. More and more software will become available as a service, paying a monthly fee to use their software over the internet. Many church management systems have provided their “web-based” software in the cloud for years, and more are doing so every year.

2) Mobile EverythingeWeek reports that the top trends in mobile technology include Bluetooth 4 that will have “a low-energy mode that will enable communication with peripherals and sensors and makes it a fit for industries such as health care,” more business-t0-business mobile apps, widgets “installable Web applications that can run on a device’s home screen,” increased functionality of app stores, enhanced location awareness, and Multimegabit wireless broadband through 4G, dominance of touch screens. Computerworld also confirms that mobile is key. More services and solutions are becoming available in the church market, with “church app” developers around every corner. Churches should consider developing their own church app that can work with their ChMS.

3) Security Issues-With the iniquitousness of mobile and cloud computing, security is big business. Keeping data secure and safe – from financial data to company files – is becoming even more important than ever before. For churches looking to take donations and payments online, finding a provider that is Level One PCI Compliant is critical.

4) End-User Control-With the rise of social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) the end-users have a growing amount of control. This affects your product and organization’s brand, influences how technology is enhanced, and basically turns the ship on top of itself. I see this becoming more of a trend in church culture where the culture adapts and changes away from church, through social media. People connect via technology, and this drives their face-to-face connection at church.

5) Internet TV-The couch potato is dead, the “streamer” is here to stay. With Google TV, Netflix, Hulu, and Roku, keeping up with acronyms will be trickier, but watching the entire first season of Scrubs anytime you want it will be much easier (I can speak from experience). With major cable companies reporting dismal declines in subscribers, internet TV programming is off the chart. In our family, we just downgraded cable and love watching Netflix over our Wii. Churches like Northland, A Church Distributed, offer live streamed services over Internet TV and Facebook. This will become more popular as well.

6) Tablet Computing-From Technorati, Christopher Califf notes, “The tablet takeover appears on track for 2011. The technology research firm Gartner projects that tablet sales will hit approximately 55 million units next year, triple the number for 2010.  Gartner also states that in 2011, all-in-one tablets, such as Apple’s iPad or Dell’s Streak, will ‘cannibalize’ their reader-focused counterparts, such as Amazon’s Kindle or Barnes and Noble’s nook. As Apple rolls out the iPad version 2 in spring and Google enters the tablet game, Gartner’s forecast could reign true in 2011.”

7) Hardware Purchases-According to Baseline, organizations will need to purchase new hardware systems this year more than last year, spurred by aging systems, reduced inventories and the release ofWindows 7. “We expect this trend to continue into a second year, possibly even stronger than the numbers here indicate,” comments Baseline.

8) Short Attention Span-Alex Wolfe, Editor-in-Chief of Information Week, notes: “If everyone now accepts that the short attention span fostered by the Internet is having deleterious effects, then maybe we’re all ready to step back from our Blackberrys for a bit and do some longer-term thinking.” I think this year, many folks (myself included) need to take a step back and reevaluate how to put boundaries on technology so that it doesn’t supersede our interactions with real live human beings standing next to us in the same room. I blogged about 3 ways to set boundaries on technology last October, and find myself taking my own advice. I now check email at 9am, 1pm, and 8pm. I don’t check my phone hourly either. It has taken Zen practice, but most days I stick with it. Life is much better now.

Do you see any trends that should be added to the list, love to hear from you!